Isaiah 28:1-13

A sad song about Ephraim

28:1Ephraim was the Israelite kingdom in the north. Its capital city was Samaria.

1 It will be very bad for Ephraim's beautiful city, Samaria! The people who live there drink too much wine and they become drunk. They are proud of their great city. It is on a hill above a valley where many good things grow. It is like a beautiful flower, but it will be beautiful no more and it will die.

2 Look! The Lord God is sending a strong and powerful army to attack it. It comes like a strong storm of ice. Its wind destroys everything. It is like rain that pours down and causes a flood. He will knock down Ephraim's great city to the ground with his great power!

28:2This was probably the Assyrian army.

3 The drunk people of Samaria think that their city is great. But their enemies will knock it down and walk all over it. 4 The city is like a beautiful flower that will soon die. It is on a hill above a valley where many good things grow. But it will be like a fig on a tree. It is ready to eat before the harvest time. When someone sees it, he will quickly pick it. And he will eat it!

5 At that time. the Lord Almighty will be a great leader of his people. He will be like a beautiful crown for his people who still remain alive. 6 He will help judges to decide what is right. He will give strength to the people who keep the city safe from those who attack it.

7 But now wine causes the leaders in Ephraim to become drunk. They cannot walk in a straight line because they drink too much beer. Beer causes the priests and the prophets to fall over. Wine confuses their minds. When they see visions, they cannot understand them. When they judge people, they cannot decide what is right.

8 They are sick over all their tables. Everywhere is covered with dirt.

9 They say, ‘Why does the Lord try to teach us like that? Who does he think that we are? He speaks to us as if we are babies! He thinks that we have just left our mother's breast! 10 He teaches us one rule at a time, one line at a time. He says it several times, a little bit here, a little bit there.’

11 So now the Lord will use foreign enemies to speak to these people. He will speak to them in a strange language.

12 In the past, he said to them, ‘This is a place where you can rest when you are tired. It is a place where you can be safe.’ But his people refused to listen. 13 So the Lord's message will seem to them like, ‘One rule at a time, one line at a time, a little bit here, a little bit there.’ So as they try to move forward, they will fall over. An enemy will hurt them, and he will catch them in a trap.